The Board discussed the IDB Review at some length and noted the presentation given by Mr Geoff Beel who had suggested that the Middle Level area should contain the Middle Level Commissioners and three "minor" internal drainage boards.
Mr Beel did not support the Defra proposal for a single sub-catchment. The members felt that while some amalgamations were likely to be beneficial, a reduction to three "minor" boards was too few. Members wondered whether the role of the Middle Level Commissioners themselves would change under the proposed Flood and Water Management Bill.
The Clerk reported that the proposed lead local flood authorities within the Middle Level area had now established Partnership Groups. The Board felt that if other Boards were to approach them, they would be receptive but that further discussion could be deferred until their next meeting.
The Clerk drew attention to the draft Biodiversity Action Plan, which had been circulated to the Chairman and Vice Chairman and which needed to be in force for April 1st. He had a number of issues to clarify with the Environmental Officer however.
The Clerk also reported on the latest position regarding the precept and that it appeared that, in breach of the agreed operating arrangements, the Environment Agency were using Welches Dam Pumping Station to evacuate water pumped into the Old Bedford by the Board. The Board felt that a net precept of £35,000 would be fair and agreed to lodge an appeal against the 2010/11 figure to protect their position.
The Clerk also reported on recent Defra consultations and updated the Board on Spoil Disposal, Grant-in-Aid and on the Water Framework Directive.
The Board received the report of their Consulting Engineer which primarily outlined the problems that had been encountered at Cock Fen Pumping Station in 2009. Members noted the position and that an insurance claim was pending.
It was agreed that discharge from Anglian Water's new sewerge scheme at Christchurch and Welney should only be permitted once the appropriate contribution had been paid.
The District Officer agreed to keep the position on Japanese Knotweed under review.
The Clerk updated members on the Agency's proposed Tidal River Strategy.
The Board discussed membership of ADA and noted the subscription increase for 2010. They expressed concern over how ADA represented IDBs and resolved to wait until their next meeting before deciding whether to re-subscribe to ADA in 2010.